04 January 2018

Health Tech: Defibrillators

  • As healthcare professional you come into contact with many pieces of equipment but did you know that many of these devices have fascinating origins? In this series, we take a look at some of the technologies that have revolutionised health care. In this edition, we focus on Defibrillators.

    A Brief History

    Early Defibrillators were invented in the 1930s by electrical engineer William Kouwenhoven and could only provide defibrillation (the process of using a controlled electrical shock to restore a hearts natural rhythm) via direct contact with the heart via surgery. As time went on the process was improved to the point where the need for surgery was no longer required. Portable Defibrillators were invented by Northern Ireland physician and cardiologist Frank Pantridge.

    Today, many public buildings have a Defibrillator on site in the event of someone suffering a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), and some campaigners are calling for their use to become as common as fire extinguishers. With statistics showing that up to 30,000 SCAs occur outside of a hospital environment (80% of these occur at home, 20% occur in public places) every year, the wider distribution of Defibrillators has saved the lives of many people.

    When someone suffers from a cardiac arrest, their heart can fall into an erratic rhythm called fibrillation. This causes the heart to suddenly stop and prevents blood from being pumped around the body. Unless CPR and a defibrillator are used as soon as possible a cardiac arrest will result in death.

    Simon says: What to do if someone suffers a cardiac arrest? 

    Clinical Training Team Leader Simon Smart provides lifesaving advice.

    Call for help - If someone is breathing erratically or not breathing at all the first thing you should do is call 999 for an ambulance.

    Stay - Do not leave the person in order to find help.

    Perform CPR - If you know CPR do it, if not the operator on the phone will talk you through the process. Get help from any passers-by and tell them to try and find a defibrillator.

    Get someone to find a Defibrillator - If a Defibrillator is used and effective CPR is performed within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, the chance of survival increases from 6% to 74%. Most shopping centres, train stations and other public buildings now have Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on the premises.  

    Use the Defibrillator – If a Defibrillator is available, use it. Many public buildings now contain one. AEDs are very easy to use and are now designed so that anyone can use and most also give automated instructions to the user.

    When it comes to saving someone who is suffering from a cardiac arrest the importance of speed and the use of defibrillators cannot be underestimated.

    Did you know?

    • When someone has a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by 7-10%.
    • 12 people under the age of 35 die each week from sudden cardiac arrest.
    • Around 270 children die from sudden cardiac arrest suffered on school premises each year.
04 January 2018

Medicines discovered by accident: Penicillin

  • Many of humanity’s greatest discoveries occurred as a result of either accidents or sheer luck. Probably one of the most important discoveries was Penicillin, the first antibiotic that has helped to save countless lives from bacterial infections.

    For many years people wondered why the Ancient Egyptians used to apply poultices of mouldy bread to infected wounds and amazingly it wasn’t until 1928 that the answer to that age-old question was answered.

    Alexander Fleming was a scientist working at St. Mary’s College London investigating influenza a major killer in his day. In 1918-19 million perished as a result of Spanish Flu. It wasn’t until he returned to work from a holiday in September 1928 that he noticed something odd. Whilst sorting through Petri dishes in his lab he noticed that one containing colonies of Staphylococcus, a rather unpleasant bacteria that cause sore throats and boils was different to the others. In the dish, there was a spot where mould was growing, and in the immediate area around the mould, the bacteria could not grow. A speck of matter had contaminated the dish to form a rare strain of Penicillium notatum. The area around it was clear suggesting that the mould had secreted something that could kill the bacteria.

    Fleming went on to experiment with ‘mould juice’ and discovered that it could kill a large number of bacteria’s that were hazardous to human health. His next task was to isolate pure penicillin from the mould secretions.

    It wasn’t until 1939 that Howard Florey, Ernst Chain and their colleagues at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University turned penicillin into a life-saving drug. With World War Two underway the need for penicillin increased dramatically, and it went on to save the lives of many wounded soldiers.


    Antibiotic Resistance

    The battle to stay ahead of evolving bacteria is one that we are currently losing. Too much use of antibiotics in the farming sector and oversubscription by GPs had resulted in the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria. If new antibiotics are not created soon then, we may be heading back to a post-antibiotic future, one where bacterial infections can kill.

    The World Health Organisation has urged the use of the drugs to be curbed in farming and GPS to refrain from subscribing them unless absolutely necessary. Whether such action will slow the growing resistance of harmful bacteria’s to antibiotics remains to be seen.

    Did you know? It is useless to take antibiotics for a viral infection

04 January 2018

Healthcare Through Time | Part 2 - Ancient Greece

  • In the second part of our Healthcare through time series we go back 2,800 years to a time of myths, gods and the Ancient Greeks, the forefathers of modern western medicine.

    ‘A doctor is worth many men’ – Homer’s the Iliad

    Asclepius the God of Healing

    The Ancient Greeks revered healers so much that they had a god that represented medicine and healing. According to myth the god Asclepius was the son of Apollo and was taught the art of healing by the centaur Chiron. Asclepius was so effective at healing the sick that Zeus, the king of the gods feared that he might make humans immortal. As a result, Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt. Homer’s the Iliad, however, takes a less supernatural approach to Asclepius as it describes him as a highly skilled physician who served in the Trojan war.

    Today, the symbol of Asclepius is often used in the medical sector as it was he who wielded a staff with a serpent coiled around it. Asclepius staff is considered to be the only true symbol of medicine.

    Medical Advancements

    Unlike the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks did not solely believe that evil spirits were the cause of illness. They still believed in their gods, but over time science began to take over when trying to explain the reasons for and solutions to sickness. Through experimentation, Greek scholars developed several theories about sickness, the most famous of which was Humouris which referred to blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm. Consequently, poor health was deemed to be a consequence of an imbalance in these four Humours.

    Greek Physicians also believed that a patient’s environment played an important part in healthcare. They recognised that various diseases occurred in certain environments and realised the importance of a clean water supply and its influence on the health of the local populace.

    This is Sparta

    Greek physicians also developed advancements in surgery thanks to the warlike ways of the ancient Greek city-states. Wars between them were a regular occurrence, but no state was so feared as Sparta. A culture of warriors trained from birth, they recognised the need to keep their soldiers healthy and were some of the first peoples to establish a basic form of professional healthcare. With all of the fighting, Greek doctors learnt a lot about the human anatomy from wounded soldiers. Surgery on civilians, however, was rare due to the associated risks, but wounded warriors were deemed acceptable to operate on.


    We can’t talk about ancient Greek medicine without mentioning Hippocrates. He is often revered as the ‘father of modern medicine’ thanks to his contributions to the world of medicine and for founding one of the world’s first medical schools. A version of the Hippocratic oath is still in use to this day.  

    Five amazing facts

    • According to the writings of Plato and Hippocrates, ancient Greek doctors believed that a woman’s womb was a separate creature with a mind of its own.

    • Half of all ancient Greek children died before they reached the age of 10 and 1 out of 3 babies died before reaching 1 year of age.

    • Ancient Greek doctors were the first to realise the importance of the environment to a person’s health.
    • The Hippocratic Corpus is a collection of seventy early medical textbooks and inspired many medical practitioners throughout the ages. 
    • The physicians Herophilus and Erasistratus performed their experiments upon criminals given to them by the Ptolemaic kings. They dissected them whilst they were still alive!
04 January 2018

Makaton: The alternative Sign Language

  • Today over 100,000 people use Makaton as a method of communication, either to support their speech or as their main communication language. At Newcross Healthcare our Clinical Trainers, deliver Makaton training across the UK, since its introduction over 462 employees have been trained in Makaton, with courses running weekly.

    Developed by Margaret Walker MBE in the 1970s, Makaton became a means of communication for those who have cognitive impairments, autism, Down Syndrome, multisensory impairment and acquired neurological disorders. The language was developed by adding signs from British Sign Language to key words in speech so that the adults and children had a better understanding of language, and how to communicate.

    The early stages of Makaton only used speech and manual signs, it wasn’t until 1985 that graphic symbols were included in the language. Since 2007, Makaton has been a registered trade mark of the Makaton Charity and is featured on the BBC Cbeebies children’s television programme Singing Hands.

    The accessibility and popularity of Makaton makes it a very easy tool for our employees to use when communicating with the wide range of service users that we provide care for at Newcross. Employees can book a place onto our Speech, Signs and Symbols Makaton course, through their local branch, that teaches our staff 120 signs and symbols along with the alphabet.


    A brief history of Makaton:

    For many of us, Makaton has proven to be a hugely versatile and helpful means of communicating. It’s now a language that we actively promote across Newcross via local training courses.

    Of course, there are many different types of sign language which have evolved over the years and the history of signing dates back much further than you might imagine.

    5th Century BC - Socrates said, "If we hadn't a voice or a tongue, and wanted to express things to one another, wouldn't we try to make signs by moving our hands, head, and the rest of our body.”

    685AD - Archbishop of York John of Beverly was recorded as teaching a deaf person to speak it was seen as a miracle

    1500s - Italian mathematician called Geronimo Cardano identified that learning does not require the ability to hear and educated his deaf son by using written words.

    1600s - sign language was used for secret communications as well as for public speaking and interaction by the deaf.

    1760 - Thomas Braidwood opened ‘Braidwood’s Academy for the Deaf and Dumb’ which is considered to be the first school in Britain to include sign language in education.

    1771 - Catholic priest called Abbe Charles Michel de L’Epee established the first free deaf school open to the public.

    1880 - Alexander Graham Bell was involved in the scheme of banning the use of sign language in at the Milan conference in 1880.

    1892 - Electrical Hearing Aid Invented

    1974 - Sign language was acknowledged as a language and officially named ‘British Sign Language’. Linguistics studying BSL agreed that it has grammar, structure and sign order.

    2003 - British Government recognises British Sign Language as a bona-fide language.

    2010 - the 21st International Congress on Education of the Deaf held in Vancouver formally apologised for the 1880 ruling citing that it accepted the damaging ramifications of the sign language ban.

    2017 onwards - Several new sign languages developed including forms such as Makaton. Today there are over 137 different forms of recognised sign language. Some have legal recognition whilst others have no status whatsoever.

    Did you know? There are an estimated 560 million people in the world with a hearing loss.

04 January 2018

The importance of a good night's sleep

  • As healthcare workers, it is vital that you get enough sleep. With care being needed 24-hours a day, you will likely be required to work a variety of shifts including nights which can be a challenge if you’ve not had a full eight hours.

    A lack of sleep can put not just yourself in danger but also the people in your care as being tired can lead to you making mistakes that can lead to injury. Sleeping on the job can lead to a disciplinary and/or dismissal, so it's in your interest to ensure you catch enough Zs.

    Mental Health

    We all spend a third of our lives in the land of nod and sleep is vital for staying healthy both mentally and physically. When we are asleep, it gives our mind and body a chance to digest the events of the day as well as supporting the immune system.

    According to studies, sleep deprivation negatively alters parts of the brain which can lead to you becoming irritable, have difficulty solving problems or making decisions and can result in depression. Sleep deprivation can also result in suicidal tendencies as well as a lack of self-awareness and increased risky behaviour.

    Physical Health

    Physically, a lack of sleep can lead to a wide range of health issues and can lead to strokes, heart disease, kidney problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. Sleep plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and heart. Sleep deficiency can alter the way in which your immune system operates and can leave you vulnerable to common infections and diseases. It can also lead you to perform poorly at work and could cause you to make mistakes that you otherwise would not.

    Microsleep is not a good thing!

    Just one to two days of poor sleep can lead to Microsleep which is moments of sleep that occur when you’re awake. Worryingly you cannot control it, and it might occur without you even being aware of it. If it occurs whilst your driving or other risky activity the consequences can be devastating.

    The top benefits of a good night’s sleep

    • Whilst asleep the brain undergoes a process known as ‘consolidation’ where it goes over everything you experienced during the day. This helps with memory and learning.

    • Studies show that those people who sleep well regularly have less inflammation in their limbs and a lower risk of suffering a heart attack.

    • A good night’s sleep sharpens your attention span and can improve your performance at work.

    Did you know? Sleep deficiency negatively impacts your driving ability as much as, or more than, being drunk.

18 December 2017

How-to thrive in your long shift this Christmas

  • There is no denying it, working over Christmas can be tough. Especially you are working a long shift, knowing that family and friends are at home scoffing down some dry turkey, opening presents, and indulging in a few festive sherbets.

    So, we’ve compiled our ‘how-to’ guide to kick those winter blues, easing you through your Christmas shift, ensuring you thrive throughout your shift, providing the highest quality of care, yet remaining in full festive cheer.

    Tip 1: Share a smile

    Your smile is actually contagious!


    Your smile is a powerful tool, when you’re radiating positivity smiling at someone, they can’t help but smile back.

    You can trick your brain into being happy by flexing your facial muscles, each time you crack a cheeky grin your zygomatic major muscles at the corners of your mouth flex sending radiant bursts of sunshine to your brain signalling that you are happy. Smiling tricks your brain into being happy causing a natural grin leading the orbicularis oculi muscles in the corner of the eyes to flex which only occurs when your brain is actually smiling from pure happiness.

    Each time you smile your brain throws a little ‘feel-good party’, activating its happy centre releasing the brains natural ‘happy’ chemicals, neuropeptides and neurotransmitters endorphins, dopamine and serotonin that work toward fighting off stress, elevating your happiness levels, this not only relaxes your body, but lowers your heart rate and blood pressure as well.

    So, stay positive and share a cheerful smile on your shift, it will not only benefit you but will bring a bit of festive joy to all your colleagues and all those in your care.

    Tip 2: It’s all about the vitamins


    effervescent vitamin tablet

    Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is your saviour for a long shift helping the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body uses to produce energy.

    Great for your Brain! Pantothenic acid gives your brain energy, helps to boost memory, and promotes normal logical brain function.  Known as an anti-stress vitamin, Vitamin B5 helps to ease anxiety and irritability helping you to stay positive on a long shift. It also helps to strengthen your immune system and promotes healthy skin and hair.

    Our top tip is an effervescent multi vitamin tablet (containing Vitamin B5 pantothenic acid) and a banana to keep you going.

    Tip 2: Food glorious food


    Eating right is key to ensuring you keep your energy levels high until the end of your shift. Eating smaller portions throughout your long shift will boost your energy for longer and is easier for your body to digest.

    Increasing your intake of foods rich in vitamin-D, such as tuna, salmon, cheese or milk, and B-vitamins, such as chicken, bananas and spinach, will help decrease fatigue. Omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to increased brain cell development.

    Our top tip is an effervescent multi-vitamin table (containing vitamin B5 pantothenic acid) and a banana to keep you going.

    Tip 3: Make the most of your break

    When you have a break make the most of it but resting. Grab a chair and chill out. Short resting periods will allow you to keep your energy up, helps to beat off those yawns and freshens up your brain and helps you to stay alert.

    Tip 4: Just keep moving


    Keeping your body moving, stretching out your muscles, taking a little stroll and staying active on a shift will keep your blood flowing and your mind awake.

    Chatting, have a chat it is Christmas after all, talk with your co-workers and patients keeping yourselves in high spirits as staying positive and keeping your mind active with conversation will prevent you from dozing off, and keep you engaged.

    You also may be able to discuss difficulties that you’re having with the night shift transition and share tips for coping with the changes.

    Tip 5: Get a good night’s sleep

    puppy napping

    Before a long shift ensure you get a good night’s sleep. I know it’s Christmas but avoid alcohol or caffeine so you can blissfully drift off to sleep.

    A good night’s sleep not only makes you feel better, look better and makes you feel refreshed, but can drastically boost your mood, making you feel more positive boosting, your morale. Sleep is key to improving your health, it improves your memory, increases your life span, improves creativity and most importantly can reduce your stress levels making you feel calmer and more alert.

    Tip 5: Step back, and take a deep breath


    Taking deep breaths is one of the best ways to instantly lower your stress level. Breathing exercises can help you relax, even just taking one deep breath can calm your brain.

    Taking a momentary step back from a stressful situation, taking a few deep breaths in through the nose and out from the mouth, enables you to collect yourself, de-stress, and re-approach the situation in a calmer more logical manner. This really helps to keep yourself going and remain positive through the festive period.

    Remember you’re playing a vital role this Christmas, whether it be caring for the elderly, providing support for a family, or keeping someone company, you are making a real difference to the lives of the people in your care. Because you’re going the extra mile Newcross ensure all those who work on Christmas day get paid on New Year’s Eve so you can go out and celebrate in style!

    So, give your local branch a ring to book into a shift over the festive period, to spread some Christmas cheer to those who need it the most.

18 December 2017

The biggest risks to service users this winter

  • Winter is a challenging season. The cold and darkness can be overwhelming for some of our service users. Age UK reported that older adults in the British Isles face higher risks in the winter compared to other European countries. So what should we, as healthcare professionals be aware of?

    Vitamin D deficiency

    Risk: The sun is weaker and out for shorter periods of time in the winter, making it difficult for service users to get enough exposure to produce vitamin D, especially if they have reduced mobility. Lacking vitamin D is bad for your health at any age, but can be particularly dangerous for those over 65 as they have an increased risk for developing osteoporosis [a decrease in bone density that can contribute to broken bones].

    Tip: Encourage service users to eat more food sources of vitamin D, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, mushrooms, eggs and milk. Try to get service users outside for up to 30 minutes a day.

    Extra advice: 4-ounce serving of salmon offers us 265% of our daily recommended allowance of vitamin D.


    Risk: The flu typically peaks in January and February during the brunt of winter and can be a huge killer of vulnerable people. This respiratory illness spreads from person to person, mostly through coughs, sneezes and even talking.

    Tip: Service users can receive flu jabs via their GP. Avoid contact with those who are ill and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

    Extra advice: Those service users who suffer from chronic health problem such as heart disease, respiratory problems, renal disease, diabetes, anemia, or any disease that weakens the body's immune system are more susceptible.

    Did you know? In 1918 a flu pandemic killed 50 million to 100 million people around the world.

    Heart attacks and high blood pressure

    Risk: The cold weather puts more strain on the heart, thickens the blood and makes a clot formation more likely to occur as well as increasing blood pressure. When your body is cold, your heart has to work harder to maintain body heat and keep you warm.

    Tip: Ensure service users wrap up warm when going out, use a hot water bottles, heat rooms to at least 18 degrees and advise them to use an electric blanket in bed.

    Extra Advice: Wearing two or three thinner layers of loose-fitting clothing is warmer than a single layer of thick clothing.

    Did you know? There are an extra 8,000 heart disease deaths throughout winter in the UK.


    Risk: Norovirus is an extremely infectious stomach bug. It can strike all year round, but is more common in winter and in places such as hospitals and nursing homes.

    Tip: When service users are ill with vomiting and diarrhoea, it's important to get them to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

    Loneliness [also known as WinterSADness – Seasonal Affective Disorder]

    Risk: Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression which can occur throughout the year, but it typically hits most people in the winter. Service users affected begin to feel the symptoms of depression, including: a loss of energy, an increased appetite and an enhanced feeling of lethargy and tiredness.

    Tip: Talk to the service user, find out their interests and the type of experience they are facing, is it isolation or loneliness? Find out what local activities are being planned in the community and sign them up to activities they are able to do: walks, singing groups, book clubs and bridge.

    Extra advice: SAD is more likely to strike women and those who live in northern areas where the sun is not as strong or constant.

    Did you know? Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company.

    If you have questions about how to support our service users this winter, our Clinical Nurse Advisor team are on hand 7 days a week. Just give your branch a ring to talk to one of the team.

    **Remember to always check your care plan before taking any action**

07 December 2017

Weather warnings: How to beat the winter weather

  • Winter is truly upon us, with storm Caroline and severe weather approaching the Met Office have issued several weather warnings that cover the whole of the UK.

    So, we have prepared a how-to guide to ensure that you are able to travel safely and are well prepared to beat the wintery weather, and guarantee the well-being of all those in your care.

    Leave enough time and be aware of the roads

    From storms to snow the unpredictable weather on its way. With the weather plummeting to sometimes sub-zero temperatures, dangerous ‘black ice’ can form on the roads surface, black ice isn't always visible and can be hazardous for both motorists and pedestrians, causing cars and people to slide.

    It takes twice as long as long to stop on a wet road as it does on a dry one so slow down your driving, avoid sudden moves and be alert. Don’t Rush! Ensure you leave enough travel time to get to your destination, drive carefully, be vigilant, and ensure your vehicle is topped up with de-icer, fuel and a thick blanket.

    Watch your step

    It goes without saying that in the winter with compacted snow, wet leaves and dry ice abound pavements and roads can pose a potential danger, especially with our elderly.

    With more elderly people each year breaking bones due to falls in icy conditions, but even people with perfect balance can come a cropper.

    So, in icy weather, ensure you have appropriate footwear with good grip, even when doing menial tasks like putting out the rubbish out; plant your foot firmly ensuring a good footing before putting all your weight on it.

    Once again take your time! And offer help to the elderly, to make sure they can cross the road safely.

    Wrap up warm

    Layers are your friend! Encourage clients to wear lots of thin layers - clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres help to maintain body heat. Heat is lost easily through the hands feet and head so ensure you have some woolly hats, gloves and socks to hand.

    Regular hot meals and drinks

    In this case eating isn’t cheating! Eating and drinking regularly ensures your body has enough energy to convert to heat, and keeps you in better health, make sure that anyone in your care has regular healthy food and drink throughout the day, to keep them warm and strong. Keeping active at winter even little tasks and exercise in the home will keep the mind active and your muscles engaged helping boost your immunity.

    Stock up on supplies

    As the weather worsens people’s ability to leave the house and commute becomes ever more difficult, so ensure that medication and food stock checks are carried out, regularly to make sure that clients and those in your care are well stocked and prepared for the winter.

    Keep up the room temperature

    Keep all rooms warm, at least above of 18°C (64°F) particularly living rooms and bedrooms, ensuring that everyone can keep arm and cosy. Continually being cold can weaken your immune system, so insure that you keep everyone in your care warm this winter.

    Please take extra care this winter to make sure that you, your co-workers and all those who are in our care are well-prepared and safe.

    You can find more information on a Cold Weather Plan here.

    Due to bad weather conditions, Delays can occur, but If you are going to be delayed, or will be unable to make it work please ensure you contact your manager or Central Support as soon as possible to make them aware.

Snow storm
06 December 2017

Hand Hygiene: How to protect yourself this winter

  • Washing your hands regularly is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid becoming ill. In a health or social care environment hand washing is the single most important way to prevent the spread of infection. Head of Clinical Governance, Juliette Millard RN, MSc, takes a look in to what is really hiding on our hands.

    During the winter months germs such as flu and norovirus are spread more easily

    When temperatures plummet our natural immunity weakens allowing germs to spread more easily. The virus’ and bacteria that cause these diseases and many more are hiding on our hands; therefore, effective hand hygiene is vital to stop the spread of these illnesses especially in winter.

    A staggering one in five of us don’t wash our hands.

    The sad reality is that washing your hands properly, and regularly, could prevent the spread of bugs and diseases, picked up from bacteria, viruses and microorganisms from things we touch every day. Effective hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

    Yet even those who do wash their hands regularly may not be doing it thoroughly enough to get rid of all the pesky bugs and germs.

    In healthcare, hand decontamination is the most important hygiene factor

    Hand decontamination has a dual role to protect both the patient and the healthcare worker, and prevents the spread of micro-organisms (germs) which can cause infection.

    Hands may look clean but in reality, an invisible cocktail of micro-organisms are always present, some of which can be harmful to our health. Removal of micro-organisms through thorough cleaning is the most important factor in preventing the spread of diseases, and potentially harmful germs being transferred to other people.

    Faecal matter and dangerous bacteria such as E. coli can be found on over a quarter of our hands.

    Faeces from people and animals is the source of germs like E. coli, norovirus and Salmonella. These germs can easily get onto our hands after using the toilet, changing a nappy, stroking an animal or even handling raw meat. Some raw meats can have invisible traces of animal faeces on them, a single gram of animal faeces can contain a concoction of up to one trillion germs.

    A toilet seat is probably cleaner that your mobile phone!

    Bugs and germs can also be found in abundance on day to day objects such as mobile phones. You may be surprised to know that toilet seats can be cleaner than your mobile phone! Your phone harbours a secret cocktail of bacteria with each square inch of your phone containing up to 25,000 germs!  And it isn’t just mobile phones, it could be the phone you use at work, your keyboard, or even the pen you borrowed from a colleague.

    How to wash your hands properly to protect yourself this winter

    Knowing how to wash your hands effectively is essential in order to protect yourself, follow our steps

    1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
    2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
    3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
    5. Dry your hands preferably using a clean paper towel or air dry them.

    If you don’t have access to running water and soap then use an alcohol based hand sanitiser that contain at least 60% alcohol. Remember that hand sanitisers can reduce the number of germs on your hands but they don’t eliminate all germs and should be used in conjunction with washing your hands not as a substitute!

    However, when it comes to health and social care settings, remember not one size fits all when it comes to the prevention of diseases and illnesses. It is important to do a quick analysis of the risks being encountered at that particular situation, then find out the right protocols to take within your work environment.

    The Five Moments

    The NHS and the WHO have developed an approach to hand hygiene called the Five Moments, this approach defines the key moments that healthcare professionals should wash their hands.

    Five moments
    1. Before touching a patient
    2. Before clean/aseptic procedures
    3. After body fluid exposure/risk
    4. After touching a patient
    5. After touching patient surroundings

    You can find more information on hand hygiene here.

01 December 2017

What's really in a cigarette?

  • In the UK today almost 1 in 5 adults smoke regularly, with smoking becoming even more prevalent in younger people. We are all told about the dangers of cigarettes to health, but do we really know what’s lurking inside them?

    Inside cigarettes

    But that’s just in the Cigarette, what about when it’s burnt?

    Although Cigarettes contain around 600 raw ingredients, when a cigarette burns it releases a toxic cloud of smoke harbouring over 7000 deadly chemicals, almost all of which are poisonous, and over 10% are known to cause cancer.


    These chemicals are hiding in the smoke:

    • Benzene – an industrial solvent, refined from crude oil
    • Formaldehyde – used in mortuaries and paint manufacturing
    • Polonium-210 – a highly radioactive element
    • Chromium – used to manufacture dye, paints and alloys
    • 1,3-Butadiene – used in rubber manufacturing
    • Nickel – used to protect metals from corrosion
    • Vinyl chloride – used to produce plastic and vinyl products
    • Beryllium – used in nuclear reactors
    • Ethylene oxide – a disinfectant used to sterilise hospital equipment
    • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – a group of dangerous DNA-damaging chemicals, including benzo(a)pyrene
    • Ortho-Toluidine – used in the production of weed killers
    • 4-aminobiphenyl and 2-naphthyl-amine – used in dye manufacturing until it was banned in the EU
    • Tobacco nitrosamines- Cancer-causing chemicals only found in tobacco.
    Yet these don’t solely affect the smoker, these chemicals linger in the air and can affect anyone around the smoker who breathes them in.

    Nicotine -
    poisonous alkaloid derived from the tobacco plant. It is a powerful drug, which affects the brain and quickly becomes addictive.
    Tar - is the term used to describe the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes. It’s a sticky brown substance that forms when tobacco cools and condenses. It collects in the lungs and can cause cancer.
    Carbon monoxide - An odourless, colourless gas that is released from burning tobacco. When it is inhaled it enters the blood stream and interferes with the working of the heart and the blood vessels. Up to 15% of a smoker’s blood can be carrying carbon monoxide instead of oxygen.

    Lung cancer

    What are some of the health problems caused by cigarette smoking?

    Smoking has been found to harm nearly every bodily organ and organ system in the body and greatly diminishes a person’s overall health.   

    Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and death from cancer, with an average of 46,403 new cases of smoking caused lung cancer diagnosed in the UK each year, leading to 35,895 deaths from smoking related lung cancer, yet 89% of these cases could have been prevented by quitting earlier.

    Smoking can cause cancers of the lung, oesophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, and rectum.

    It’s not only cancer…

    Smoking causes more damage to our bodies than we realise and is a leading factor in the development of heart disease, stroke, aortic aneurysm (a balloon-like bulge in an artery in the chest), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts, and worsens asthma symptoms in adults.

    Smokers are at higher risk of developing pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other airway infections. In addition, smoking causes inflammation and impairs immune function.

    There is however one way to avoid all of these conditions…quitting!

    Quitting smoking can be a difficult step, but it is a positive step towards becoming healthier, saving money and preventing second-hand smoking for your friends, family and colleagues.

    At Newcross we want all our employees to be able to provide excellence in healthcare, we recognise that sometimes you need extra support so that you can feel mentally and physically well. In order to do this we provide an online portal called myWellbeing with information to help you quit smoking, so you can come to work feeling great!

    Sources of information:myWellbeing provides you with the right information for the support you may need in life, you can access it here.